Family Heirloom- Dead Man’s Penny for James Joseph Stapleton

A family heirloom on our children’s paternal side of the family is a World War I Memorial Plaque, but is more popularly known as a ‘Dead Man’s Penny’. It is in memory of James Joseph Stapleton who was killed in action on the Somme on 1 September 1918.

J J Stapleton Memorial Plaque-Copyright Nola Mackey 2013

This Photograph is Copyright-Nola Mackey

These Memorial Plaques were issued after World War I to the next of kin of all British and Empire soldiers, sailors and airmen who were killed or died of wounds during the war.

In 1919 the British Government held a design competition for the proposed plaque. There were over eight hundred designs submitted. The winner was Edward Carter Preston a renowned sculptor and medalist for a prize of £250.

These plaques were made of bronze and about five inches or 120 mm in diameter.

The medal design was only on the front and is an image of Britannia holding a trident and standing with a lion. In Britannia’s outstretched left hand is an oak wreath. At the bottom of the plaque is another lion tearing apart the German eagle symbolizing Britain’s superiority on land. Dolphins swim around Britannia symbolizing sea power.

A rectangular tablet to the right of Britannia is where the deceased’s full name is inscribed. No rank is included as all gave the same sacrifice- their life. Around the edge of the plaque in capital letters reads: “HE/SHE DIED FOR FREEDOM AND HONOUR.”

The initial plaques were made at Acton in London, but later, manufacture was shifted to the Royal Arsenal at Woolwich. On the back of this plaque is “WA”(the A being formed by a bar between the upward strokes of the “W” ), which indicates it was made at Woolwich.

These plaques were issued with a commemorative scroll from King George V.

On receipt of the scroll and plaque the next of kin were required to officially acknowledge by letter and form. These can be found within the service personel records at the Australian Archives.

From the 18th Century the British ‘penny’ was made of copper and a ‘Britannia’ design featured on the face of the coin. It is described as- “Britannia seated facing right, wearing a helmet, holding a trident in her left hand and her right hand resting on a shield with the words ‘one penny’ in the field and date below.” This design with few variations remained as the face of the British penny from c 1780 to 1967.

During World War I the soldiers used these coins as ‘Two-up’ Pennies and even today many surviving sets come out on “Anzac Day”. This is the only day ‘Two-up’ is legally sanctioned.

Due to the similarity in design of the Memorial Plaque and the British penny the Memorial plaque became known colloquially as “The Dead Man’s Penny”.

See also

posted 21 April 2013 at World War I Family Heroes – The Stapleton Boys

posted 13 October 2014 at Australian World War I Battlefields Tour – Family Heroes J J Stapleton and R E Sherwood – Mont St Quentin

 posted 13 October 2014 at Australian World War I Battlefields Tour – Family Heroes J J Stapleton and R E Sherwood – Peronne

Advertisements

Sudds Cousins Emigrate to America

In a former blog I wrote about the family of John Bell(b1822) Mereworth, Kent, England, who had married in Staplehurst in 1851, Harriet Hatcher. They had three children John (b.1851), Elizabeth (b.1853) and Mary Ann (b.1855) before they emigrated to the United States of America in 1856-7.

At the end of the blog I suggested they were probably not the first in the Bell family who had emigrated to America.

After assessing the large collection of documents my cousin Glenda and I had collected on the various branches of the Bell family, I narrowed down my ‘possible’ families.

One person of interest was William Daniel Sudds, the youngest son of Paul and Jane Sudds (nee Bell). His mother, Jane Bell (b.1778) was the eldest daughter of Thomas and Ann Bell (nee Lawrence) of Mereworth, Kent, England. This couple, Thomas and Ann Bell was also Glenda and my 4X great-grandparents, although down through different children.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

St Lawrence, Mereworth,Kent-Copyright Nola Mackey 2004

William Daniel Sudds (b.1811)known as Dan Sudds, is believed to have emigrated to New York about 1845. There he married a Mary Unknown and had a number of children including Emma (b.1846); Addison (b.1849); Josephine,(1852; Rachel (b.1854); Jennie (Jane) b.1856; Daniel (b.1859). This family also migrated to Michigan where two more daughters Maud (b.1860) and Elsie (b.1864) were born. The family resided at Chocolay, Michigan for a number of years. Dan Sudds died in 1868.

Dan Sudds would have been a first cousin to the former mentioned John Bell(b.1822) and also to my ancestor George Bell who emigrated to Australia in 1837.

Dan Sudds elder brother Iden (b.1804) married Jane Huggett in 1825 and had a number of children including Jane (b.1826); Mary Ann (b.1827); William (b.1828); Iden (b.1830); Sarah (b.1831); Isaac (b.1833); Ann (b.1836); Eleanor (b.1837); Catherine (b.1838); Emma (b.1841); Amos (b.1842); Caroline (b.1844); Frederick (b.1846) and Amy(b.1848).

We have been able to establish that the above mentioned Mary Ann Sudds(b.1827) married David Kennedy and Sarah Sudds (b.1831) married Jeremiah Wells. These couples emigrated to Canada c 1860. As yet I have not been able to establish if Mary and David Kennedy had any children, but she died in Ontario in 1895.

Jeremiah and Sarah Wells had a number of children including the following born in Ontario:- Julia (b.1863); Jessie (b.1865); Mary (b.1868);Mark (b.1869); and Minnie (b.1870).

I have been a member of the Kent Family History Society for over forty years. Over the years I have purchased most of their books and CD resources and in more recent years have been involved in the Global Branch of the Society. There members can post questions and problems concerning their family research on the Society’s website. I was most fortunate to have several KFHS members living in USA and Canada answer my queries and I was able to make further headway with my research over there

As well as the above mentioned Sudds families and connections, I found other Sudds families emigrating from Mereworth and Wateringbury, Kent. About 1875 Frederick Charles (b.1851) and Martha Sudds and his brother Timothy Sudds (b.1842)and his wife Sarah emigrated to the USA. They first settled in Michigan, but had moved to Ravenna Portage in Ohio by 1878. They remained there for several years, where Timothy was a saloon keeper. In about 1887 the families moved to Cook, Illinois.

Meanwhile back in Wateringbury, Kent, Frederick and Timothy’s younger brother Nathan (b.1854) had spent some time in the army, as a wheelwright. He was stationed in Malta, where he met and married a local girl, Carmella. They had a daughter, Elizabeth, born in Malta before they were shipped back to Kent about 1880. A son, Nathan, was born the following year. Then two daughters were born, Emily and Ann, in 1883 and 1885 respectively.

Soon afterwards the family decided to emigrate to USA and joined Nathan’s brothers and their families in Illinios. The family later settled in Thornton, where a number of children were born and by 1900 a total of ten children were living at home with the parents.

Although it was fun tracking down other twigs and branches of the far flung ‘Bell Family Tree’, Glenda and I decided it was time we returned to our more immediate family connection in Kent and Australia. There was still plenty of research to do.